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Topic: Non-fiction for travel junkies

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Subject: Non-fiction for travel junkies
Date Posted: 4/29/2009 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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I looked in the travel/adventure thread but there's not much posting going on there.  So...

Love books about travelling and living in a new place, and would really like to find both more authors and more places.   Any suggestions?

Some favorites so far:

All books about Provence by Peter Mayle

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Ella in Europe by Michael Konik

Notes from a Small Island  Bill Bryson


Date Posted: 4/29/2009 11:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 137
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I recommend Bill Bryson's other books, he is a great storyteller, intejecting humor with his travel adventures, a few that I have enjoyed are listed below:

In a Sunburned Country (Australia)

Neither Here Nor There  (Europe)

I'm a Stranger Here Myself (USA - after he had been away for 20 years)

A Walk in the Woods (rediscovering America on the Appalachian trail). 

Date Posted: 4/30/2009 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Have you ever read any Peter Matthiessen's non-fiction?  He's a really wonderful writer.  The Snow Leopard (Nepal), Tigers in the Snow  (about Siberian Tigers in Far Eastern Russia) and End of the Earth: Expeditions to South Georgia and Antarctica are all great.  I currently have Dark Star Safari in my TBR pile.  Has anyone read it yet?  I'm excited to pick it up.

Date Posted: 4/30/2009 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 11,036
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Frances Mayes (Italy)

Carol Drinkwater (Italy)

If you look at my wish list, you might find some to add to your wish list. I have a lot of travel memoirs WL'd.

Tahir Shah (I guess you could call his books "quest" travel)

Bruce Feiler (following the Bible)

You can also just try typing in the name of a place in the search field and you can usually come up with quite a few hits.

There IS a really good thread in the travel forum about books about Great Britain...

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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Bren, thanks for the hint in the travel thread, I'll take a look!  How are Frances Maye's books?  The movie was so fluffy...

Joyce, I'll take a look at the other Bill Brysons.  I did read neither here nor there and found it to be a little whiny, and it turned me off.  Should I try again?


Date Posted: 5/2/2009 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 11,036
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Jen the movie is NOTHING like the books. It was SO miscast and far from the book the only things they really have in common are the title and the setting. The book is much more a love story of the place, not a love story of the people.

Date Posted: 5/4/2009 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2008
Posts: 2
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The Reluctant Tuscan, by Phil Doran

Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull


I really enjoyed both of these.

Date Posted: 5/5/2009 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 364
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Love Bill Bryson!!!  Something similar to his storytelling style is Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.  It's was just as hysterical as one of Bryson's books.  It's about a man (Hawks) who makes a bet that he can travel around Ireland with a fridge in tow....hitchhiking!  So funny!

Subject: Paul Theroux
Date Posted: 5/5/2009 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2009
Posts: 6
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I love all Theroux's non-fiction. He has a very dry sense of humor and his insights are very interesting regarding cultures. I love his travel by train series: Riding the Iron Rooster (Asia)and Patagonia (they are amazing journeys he attempts to make solely by rail, for example form Maine to the tip of South America entirely by rail)

I also love Francis Mayes Under the Tucsan Sun, but her latest was just OK...A Year in the World it annoyed me how she unfailingly gushed about Arab culture in a unwaveringly flattering light while being brutally blunt at times regarding European and Anglo culture- almost pandering a bit, I thought. But still an interesting read.

Subject: Lynne Cox
Date Posted: 5/5/2009 4:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2009
Posts: 6
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OK, not really travel, but a swimmer's tale of amazing true quest to swim in open oceans- what a great read! Swimming to Antartica by Lynne Cox.

Date Posted: 5/5/2009 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2009
Posts: 175
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I love Peter Jenkins' stuff.

Walk Across America, The Walk West, Along the Edge of America, Looking for Alaska, Across China.

Last Edited on: 5/5/09 4:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/6/2009 4:38 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 2,027
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Jon Krakauer's book aren't exactly what you are describing, but they are very good stories written about different places and how individuals view the wilderness.

Date Posted: 5/7/2009 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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Anything by Eric Newby, but especially A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. Look for the scene where he and his friend meet famous traveller Wilfred Thesiger on the trail. Tht hooked me on anything he's written. Anything by Patrick Leigh Fermor, particularly The Travellers Tree (recommended by James Bond - yes, that one).

Last Edited on: 5/7/09 11:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/8/2009 12:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 1,241
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Not exactly travel because they move there, but one of my favorite books is A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean
Author: Robert Blanchard, Melinda Blanchard
I have it on tape and it's a keeper for me.

I also love Charles Kuralt and William Least Heat Moon.

Last Edited on: 5/8/09 12:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/8/2009 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 795
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Try "Getting Stoned with Savages" by J. Maarten Troost (South Sea Island)

I like the type of book your talking about too, Jenny.

Date Posted: 5/14/2009 4:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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Thanks for all the great hints!  I've ordered Almost French, A Trip to the Beach, and Under the Tuscan Sun, and wishlisted Tim Moore and Troost (GREAT title).  Theroux is next. 

I actually read Krakauer's books, they are great portraits.

I've noticed there's not much from South America or Central America, which are places I've been fantasizing about seeing.  Wrong type of book? 

Subject: More suggestions
Date Posted: 5/14/2009 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 110
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If you think that Francis Mayes-Under the Tuscan Sun sounds good, you will also enjoy her- Bella Tuscany.  I loved them both.

You would also enjoy the books by Jane and Michael Stern-Two for the Road, Amazing America, and Road Food. 

What about James Michner's books?  Alaska, Hawaii, The Drifters, etc?   Wonderful travel experience awaits!!


Subject: Latin American travel books
Date Posted: 5/15/2009 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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For Mexico, there are Tony Cohan ('On Mexican Time' and another whose name I forget), Nick Caistor's 'Mexico City' ( in the Cities of the Imagination series), Kenneth Pearce's 'A Traveller's History of Mexico,' and Dane Chandos' two excellent books from the 1940s - 'House in the Sun' and 'Village in the Sun.' For short pieces from full-length books, which might give you an idea of which authors you'd like to read more of, try 'A Reader's Companion to Mexico,' edited by Alan Ryan or 'Travelers' Tales: Mexico,' edited by James O'Reilly and Larry Habegger. For South America, I'll have to go check the shelves. All that come to mind now are Moritz Thomsen's 'Living Poor' and 'The Farm on the River of Emeralds.' The first is about when he was in the Peace Corps in a small village in coastal Ecuador in the early 1960s, and is very funny and true. The second is about when he later went back there. I don't know if there's a Travelers' Tales book on South America or individual countries there, but if one exists, it'd be worth trying. I'd forgotten about Sara Wheeler's 'Travels in a Long Country' - about Chile. I liked that one so much that I'm looking out for her others.

Last Edited on: 6/28/09 9:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/16/2009 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2005
Posts: 810
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I think you'd like Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman.

Subject: travel books
Date Posted: 5/16/2009 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/30/2006
Posts: 133
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I loved A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and just finished Toujours Provence, and there is one other one by Mayle I need to read next.

Date Posted: 5/18/2009 12:23 AM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2008
Posts: 3
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Vikram Seth's book From Heaven Lake - from China to Tibet and home to India.  It must of been one of his earlier books because it's not really polished, but I thought it was interesting. 

Date Posted: 5/19/2009 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I recently read Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. Excellent book - it is equal parts memoir, social commentary, and travelogue. He is such an eloquent writer and has a great sense of humor. Many of his novels are set in depression era America with heavy subjects and great analyses of human nature. In Travels he combines his extraordinary perception of human nature with humor that had me smiling as I read.

Date Posted: 5/19/2009 1:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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You would also enjoy the books by Jane and Michael Stern-Two for the Road, Amazing America, and Road Food. 

I really couldn't love Jane and Michael Stern any more than I already do.  The Shark God (travelling in the South Seas) is pretty good, too.

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 220
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (funny, I recommended this book already once today...) about life in Savannah, GA


Blue Highways (my sister loaned this one to me about 4 years ago and I've conveniently forgotten to return it)